Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network

VATSIM, or Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network, is a non-profit organization operating a dedicated, worldwide, Internet-based flight-simulation network. [cite book
last = Radcliffe
first = Doug
coauthors = Andy Mahood
title = Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight (Official Strategy Guide)
publisher = John Wiley & Sons
year = 2003
pages = 188
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=QDwAFiQ4B1MC&pgis=1
isbn = 0782142370
]

Overview

VATSIM is one of the two main providers [cite paper
first = Nic
last = D’Alessandro
title = Transference of PC based simulation to aviation training: issues in learning
publisher = InSite Solutions (Tas.) Pty Ltd
date = 2007-11-15
url = http://www.insitesolutions.com.au/Documents/Transfer_PCATDs_aviation_%20training_learning_v1-1.pdf
format = PDF
accessdate = 2008-04-29
] of flight-simulation networks that allows users to either fly online as a pilot, or direct traffic as an air traffic controller (ATC). [cite news
last = Sanders
first = Peter
title = In imaginary skies, would-be controllers guide pretend pilots
pages =
language =
publisher = Wall Street Journal
date = 2006-05-16
url = http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06138/691249-96.stm
accessdate = 2008-04-13
] Communications between pilots and controllers are carried out using integrated voice-over-IP or in-game text messages. Users require custom software to use the network. It has been suggested that through VATSIM, ordinary people have come together as a network of pilots interacting with air traffic controllers to produce a vast, organic simulation of actual air traffic. [cite book
last = Castronova
first = Edward
title = Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games
publisher = University of Chicago Press
year = 2005
pages = 158
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=VKkV0_5QjQ0C
isbn = 0226096262
]

The goal is to keep the simulation as close as possible to real-life aviation procedures, including realistic procedural standards and radio phraseology. This has made VATSIM a training aid to student pilots who lack experience at communication with air traffic control, as well as private and commercial pilots looking to enhance their skills, especially in radio communications. [cite book
last = Maharg
first = Paul
title = Transforming Legal Education
publisher = Ashgate Publishing
year = 2007
pages = 165
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=8-zmLbJ8ODoC
isbn = 0754649709
] In achieving this the network has been highlighted as bringing more immersion to what was once a solitary exercise, events in the game are no longer just programmed into the software but are introduced by the combination of human effort and error. [cite web
last = McCracken
first = Grant
authorlink = http://www.cultureby.com/trilogy/dynamism_watch/index.html
title = How virtual worlds discovered dynamism
work = Intersection of Anthropology and Economics
date = 2006-05-16
url = http://www.cultureby.com/trilogy/2006/05/how_virtual_wor.html
accessdate = 2008-07-14
]

History

In the mid 1990s, the evolution of the Internet and modern flight simulators allowed users to fly together using multiplayer functions of the simulators. In 1997, the first version of "SquawkBox" was created as an add-on for Microsoft's Flight Simulator 95, enhancing the built-in multiplayer features to allow large numbers of players to connect to the game. "ProController", a radar simulation program, was created in the same year, and SATCO was formed around the gathering community of aviation enthusiasts. In December 1998, the International Virtual Aviation Organization (IVAO) split away from SATCO due to disagreements in the group. VATSIM was officially formed in July 2001, effectively replacing SATCO. [cite news
last = Terdiman
first = Daniel
coauthors =
title = Into the wild blue virtual yonder
quote = It formed in 2001 when internal politics in a precursor network, SATCO, caused a rupture that resulted in two rival networks: VatSim ... and IVAO
publisher = CNET News.com
date = 2006-12-16
url = http://www.news.com/Into-the-wild-blue-virtual-yonder/2100-1043_3-6144347.html
accessdate = 2008-04-29
] In 2006 VATSIM was featured in an article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. [cite news
last = Sanders
first = Peter
title = In Imaginary Skies, Would-Be Controllers Guide Pretend Pilots
language = English
publisher = Wall Street Journal
year = 2006
url = http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114791326544456106.html?mod=hps_us_pageone
accessdate = 2008-04-29
]

tructure

The structure of VATSIM is organized in a similar fashion to its real world counterparts. VATSIM is divided into seven regions (Africa/Middle East, Asia, Central America/Mexico/Caribbean, Europe, North America, Oceania and South America), which are further subdivided into country-specific divisions. The divisions themselves are divided into Flight Information Regions (FIRs), Virtual Area Control Centers (vACCs) and Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs). [cite news
last = Galvin
first = John
title = Always a Dull Moment
language = English
publisher = Wired
date = 2003-03
url = http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.03/dull.html?pg=1&topic=&topic_set=
accessdate = 2008-04-14
]

oftware

VATSIM is supported by what has been described as a remarkably complex and robust software to allow the operation of the network. [cite book
last = Kimbrough
first = Steven O.
coauthors = D. J. Wu
title = Formal Modelling In Electronic Commerce
publisher = Birkhäuser
year = 2004
pages = 17
quote = There now exists a vibrant community organized around VATSIM, as well as remarkably complex and robust software supporting these activities.
url = http://books.google.com/books?id=rR2oEoun0gkC
isbn = 3540214313
] This software has allowed the online flying experience to become increasingly realistic with software that closely resembles the screens used in the real world for managing aircraft. [cite news
last = Barter
first = Pavel
title = Flights of Fancy
quote = ...three air traffic control programs which are amazingly close to the screens used in the real world.
publisher = CVG
date = 2008-07-13
url = http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=192756
accessdate = 2008-07-14
] Users need custom plugins (such as "SquawkBox" or "FSInn") for flight simulators (such as Microsoft Flight Simulator or X-Plane) to connect as pilots, or radar simulation applications (ASRC, VRC or Euroscope) to connect as air traffic controllers. VATSIM-specific applications are available for free and provided by the network itself.

Network service is provided by proprietary servers located throughout the world. All servers are interconnected so that users can see each other on the network, no matter which particular server they connect to.

There are also additional 3rd party tools available that are not essential for the usage of the network, but can provide useful information.

Membership and training

Users must join the organization as members before they can connect to the network, but membership is free. Members must be at least 13 years old. There are no usage fees for connection to the VATSIM network. It is common for younger members interested in getting into real world flying to use the network to develop their skills, particularly the often daunting task of communicating with other pilots and Air Traffic Control. The network provides the opportunity for those new to aviation to develop their skills through a series of training programmes modeled on what is required in the real world. [cite news
last = Orr
first = Josh
title = Teen earns wings for his first solo flight
language = English
publisher = Sarasota Herald Tribune
date = 2006-05-02
url = http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-15082102_ITM
accessdate = 2008-07-14
]

The VATSIM network does not require virtual pilots to take any training before flying, however virtual air traffic controllers are required to undertake mandatory training before opening a controlling position. [ [http://vatsim.net/controller.html VATSIM controller introduction] ]

The network claimed to have had just under 130,000 registered members, with more than 10,000 of these classed as currently active, in December 2006. [cite news
last = Terdiman
first = Daniel
coauthors =
title = Into the wild blue virtual yonder
quote = ..the network has had just under 130,000 accounts registered, and has more than 10,000 active users...
language = English
publisher = CNET News.com
date = 2006-12-16
url = http://www.news.com/Into-the-wild-blue-virtual-yonder/2100-1043_3-6144347.html
accessdate = 2008-04-29
] In 2005, El Al, the Israeli airline, required more than 700 of its new pilots to go through a personal computer simulation that was hosted by the members of VATSIM to provide realistic training for their pilots. [cite news
last = Sanders
first = Peter
title = In Imaginary Skies, Would-Be Controllers Guide Pretend Pilots
quote = In 2005, El Al, the Israeli airline, required more than 700 of its new pilots to go through a personal computer simulation that was hosted by the members of VATSIM
language = English
publisher = TecTrends
year = 2006
url = http://www.tectrends.com/tectrends/article/00160331.html
accessdate = 2008-04-29
] [cite news
last = Margulius
first = David
title = Tech jobs take stress to whole new levels
quote = ...is so realistic that some commercial airlines are starting to use it to train [their] pilots...
language = English
publisher = InfoWorld
date = 2006-05-26
url = http://www.news.com/Into-the-wild-blue-virtual-yonder/2100-1043_3-6144347.html
accessdate = 2008-04-29
]

Events

The VATSIM network is open 24 hours a day and network downtime is extremely rare; pilots and controllers are free to connect and fly or control anywhere in the world at any time (subject to qualification restrictions in the case of controllers). However, the network and different ATC centers sponsor regular events to encourage pilots and ATC to congregate at various locations in the world, usually several times a week. At the most popular of these events, traffic levels may be comparable to those of the same locations in real life.Fact|date=April 2008

VATSIM and MITRE

On January 12, 2008, after a long period of planning and negotiation, VATSIM held a major simulation event as part of a cooperative effort with the Center for Advanced Aviation System Development (CAASD) of The MITRE Corporation to assess the viability of VATSIM as a platform for certain categories of real-world air traffic simulation. Some 500 VATSIM pilots and dozens of VATSIM air traffic controllers participated in the event. Pilots flew routes preplanned by MITRE to simulate real-world traffic levels at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports over a period of several hours, with landings and take-offs at each airport being spaced as closely as every two minutes. Some objectives of this first cooperative event included load testing of the VATSIM network infrastructure and assessment of pilot and ATC skills within the membership. Analysis of the event in detail was still in progress in early 2008. [cite press release
title = VATSIM - Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network
publisher = MITRE Corporation
date = 2008-01-12
url = http://www.mitrecaasd.org/vatsim/
accessdate = 2008-04-14
]

Administration

VATSIM is governed by a self-appointing board of governors and an executive committee. The current (2008) president of VATSIM is Richard Jenkins. Administration and day-to-day operations are supported by volunteers, donations, and sponsorship. Use of the network is free, and no indication has been given that the organization intends to charge for providing the service in the future.

ee also

*Virtual airline
*MITRE Corporation
*IVAO
*Flight Simulator
*MMO
*Air Traffic Control

References

External links

* [http://www.vatsim.net VATSIM home page] - Official website, includes links to region- and division-specific web sites.
* [http://www.vataware.com vataware] - Detailed statistics & live flight tracking for VATSIM traffic.


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